These recipes are perfect for those catering for the smaller Christmases that are on the cards for 2020.

Twice the number of people are expecting to spend Christmas alone this year, thanks – as with almost everything 2020 – to the pandemic. Many are electing to go it solo to stay safe, particularly since the prospect of a vaccine in the first few weeks of 2021 means that there is an end in sight if we’re sensible now; to protect the NHS at its busiest time; and to make the sacrifice now in order to ensure that next year’s festivities are bigger and better than ever. Many more may not be spending the day alone but will be in radically depleted groups. All of which means that, for some, the idea of cooking the whole turkey-with-all-the-trimmings feast is not quite as appealing as in previous years.

And yet, it is Christmas Day, and alone or not, it’s a nice idea to make something special for lunch – whether it’s to be devoured on the sofa in front of a good film; at a properly laid candle-lit table; or with beloved friends or family via Zoom.

Here are a few recipes that make wonderful Christmas lunch alternatives, from scaled-down takes on the traditional to the gloriously casual but absolutely delicious. However you are spending the day, anything goes, so long as you make sure to spoil yourself – however you see fit.


Steak With Anchovy And Caper Butter


Delicious Magazine


Why not ditch the turkey and instead blow your Christmas lunch budget on a really top-quality rib-eye steak from the butcher? Unlike the traditional lunch, this takes a mere 15 minutes to cook, leaving you free to revel in winter walks, Zoom chats and cosy films by the fire. Plus, the anchovy and caper butter is the stuff of dreams. If you’re missing roast potatoes, they’d work well as accompaniment here; or why not go classic and serve yours with watercress and chips?


Roasted Chicken Breast With Creamy Butternut Squash And Chilli


Jamie Oliver


Chicken always makes a good substitute for turkey unless you’re catering to a large crowd, since so many people seem to prefer it anyway. But if you’re baulking at the idea of a whole bird of any variety this year, Jamie’s roast chicken breast with butternut squash roundly proves that a roast can work just as well as an individual portion. We love the addition of nutmeg and single cream, which lends the whole affair a suitably festive richness. It can be made in one tray, so minimal washing up, too. Don’t forget to pour yourself a generous glass of good Chianti to wash it down.


Christmas Dinner For One


BBC Good Food


Alone or not, for some people, Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without the full works, plus leftovers to pick at over Twixtmas. BBC Good Food has a great take on the festive lunch for one, with a stuffed chicken joint and the all the trimmings you can shake a stick at. This one may take a little longer than some of the other recipes, but tinkering in the kitchen is part and parcel of the enjoyment for many. We recommend amping up the Christmas carols and pouring a glass of sherry while you cook.

Posh Cheese, Bacon And Fig Toasties


Olive Magazine


Anyone who has ever been designated Christmas cook will be familiar with the traditional annual moment of threatening to throw in the towel and serve up cheese on toast instead, whether in frustration or panic. Well, this year, why not make it a reality? Being Christmas, it’s imperative, however, that your toastie be of a superior variety – and we can’t think of much more delicious than sitting down with a cheese, bacon and fig rendition – on excellent bread, naturally – in front of Miracle on 34th Street/ It’s A Wonderful Life/ any Poirot. It may just be heaven, in fact.

Potato Latkes With Smoked Salmon And Poppyseed Cream


Taste


Starters of smoked salmon are, for many, the highlight of the Christmas lunch. Well, why not make them the focus of yours this year? This recipe for delicious accompanying potato latkes balances the lightness of the fish perfectly. Sure, it might suggest that these are generally intended for parties, and in other times that may well be true; but this year anything goes. A plate of these and a glass or two of champagne makes for a fine way to feast this year.


Cheat’s Fish Pie


Olive Magazine


This Christmas is all about comfort, and there are few dishes as cheering or soothing as fish pie. But, as the good folk at Olive Magazine note, it is typically a fairly labour intensive dish. This, on the other hand, is a cheat’s version, taking just 20 minutes to throw together. Perfect fodder for a happy afternoon on the sofa.

Creamy Fish Chowder


Taste


One of the joys of Christmas lunch is how pretty it can look, the vivid red of the cranberry sauce offset by the green of the Brussells sprouts and decanters of red wine dotted down the table, jewel-like. That might be off the table for this year, but there’s no reason that your repast shouldn’t look every bit as gorgeous. This creamy fish chowder is suitably luxuriant and perfectly beautiful to look at. Serve in your loveliest bowl and with a glass of chilled crisp white wine.


Chocolate Chestnut Tart


Flora Shedden


One area in which we recommend you cater as if for a crowd is pudding. After all, it will keep for a few days, so why not make enough to enjoy for the whole Christmas period? We adore this festive tart from the ever-brilliant Flora Shedden. There are few ingredients so redolent of this time of year as chestnuts, which work more-ishly and beautifully with the dark chocolate, cocoa and pears here. Actual slices of heaven.
Picture credit: Flora Shedden.

By Nancy Alsop
December 2020

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Nancy Alsop

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